Scott #136038 v. Heyns et al
OPINION; signed by Judge Gordon J. Quist (Judge Gordon J. Quist, jmt)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
RONALD M. SCOTT,
Case No. 1:15-cv-229
Honorable Gordon J. Quist
DANIEL H. HEYNS et al.,
This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
The Court has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Under the Prison Litigation
Reform Act, PUB. L. NO . 104-134, 110 STAT . 1321 (1996), the Court is required to dismiss any
prisoner action brought under federal law if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant immune from
such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The Court must read Plaintiff’s
pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept Plaintiff’s
allegations as true, unless they are clearly irrational or wholly incredible. Denton v. Hernandez, 504
U.S. 25, 33 (1992). Applying these standards, Plaintiff’s action will be dismissed for failure to state
Plaintiff Ronald M. Scott presently is incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Carson City Correctional Facility. He sues MDOC director Daniel H.
Heyns, Michigan Parole Board (MPB) chairman Tom Combs, and MPB members Abigail A.
Callejas and Amy M. Bonito.
Plaintiff pleaded guilty in the Macomb County Circuit Court to two counts of altering
or possessing altered vehicle registration or plates, MICH . COMP . LAWS § 257.257, carrying a
concealed weapon, MICH . COMP . LAWS § 750.227, and possession of less than 25 grams of cocaine,
MICH . COMP . LAWS § 333.7403(2)(a)(v). On July 27, 2010, he was sentenced to one-and-one half
to seven-and-one-half years’ imprisonment on each count of altering a vehicle registration or plates
and carrying a concealed weapon. He was sentenced to one-and-one-half to six years’ imprisonment
on the cocaine-possession charge. On December 1, 2011, Plaintiff was sentenced to a prison term
of one to two-and-one-half years, after he pleaded guilty in the Lenawee County Circuit Court to
one count of attempted assault of a prison employee, MICH . COMP . LAWS § 750.197c.
Plaintiff complains that, on June 10, 2013, he went before MPB member Barbara S.
Sampson for a parole interview. He alleges that he was denied parole because he did not have a
work report, a block report or any group reports. Plaintiff complains that he has done everything
he previously was told to do and that he should have been granted parole. On December 11, 2014,
he had another parole interview with MPB member Abigail A. Callejas. He complains that he was
denied the rights to read the documents reviewed by the MPB and to present evidence. Plaintiff
alleges that Defendant Callejas, acting in conjunction with Defendant Bonito, denied him parole
without due process. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Callejas previously violated his due
process rights by denying him parole on June 26, 2012. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants are
biased against him and that unidentified officers have made false statements and discriminated
against him, resulting in his parole repeatedly being denied. For relief, Plaintiff seeks release on
Failure to state a claim
A complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it fails “‘to give the
defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.’” Bell Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While
a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff’s allegations must include more
than labels and conclusions. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements,
do not suffice.”). The court must determine whether the complaint contains “enough facts to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Although
the plausibility standard is not equivalent to a “‘probability requirement,’ . . . it asks for more than
a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 556). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the
mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged – but it has not ‘show[n]’ – that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting FED . R. CIV . P. 8(a)(2)); see also Hill
v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding that the Twombly/Iqbal plausibility
standard applies to dismissals of prisoner cases on initial review under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)(1)
To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a
right secured by the federal Constitution or laws and must show that the deprivation was committed
by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Dominguez v.
Corr. Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009). Because § 1983 is a method for vindicating
federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself, the first step in an action under § 1983 is to
identify the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271
Plaintiff claims that Defendants violated his due process rights by failing to grant his
parole, despite his having completed all of the recommended rehabilitation and work requirements.
To establish a procedural due process violation, a plaintiff must prove that (1) he was deprived of
a protected liberty or property interest, and (2) such deprivation occurred without the requisite due
process of law. Club Italia Soccer & Sports Org., Inc. v. Charter Twp. of Shelby, 470 F.3d 286, 296
(6th Cir. 2006); see also Swihart v. Wilkinson, 209 F. App’x 456, 458 (6th Cir. 2006). Plaintiff fails
to raise a claim of constitutional magnitude because he has no liberty interest in being released on
parole. There is no constitutional or inherent right to be conditionally released before the expiration
of a prison sentence. Greenholtz v. Inmates of Neb. Penal & Corr. Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 7 (1979).
Although a state may establish a parole system, it has no duty to do so; thus, the presence of a parole
system by itself does not give rise to a constitutionally protected liberty interest in parole release.
Id. at 7, 11; Bd. of Pardons v. Allen, 482 U.S. 369, 373 (1987). Rather, a liberty interest is present
only if state law entitles an inmate to release on parole. Inmates of Orient Corr. Inst. v. Ohio State
Adult Parole Auth., 929 F.2d 233, 235 (6th Cir. 1991).
In Sweeton v. Brown, 27 F.3d 1162, 1164-65 (6th Cir. 1994) (en banc), the Sixth
Circuit, noting “the broad powers of the Michigan authorities to deny parole,” held that the
Michigan system does not create a liberty interest in parole. The Sixth Circuit reiterated the
continuing validity of Sweeton in Crump v. Lafler, 657 F.3d 393, 404 (6th Cir. 2011). In Crump,
the court held that the adoption of specific parole guidelines since Sweeton does not lead to the
conclusion that parole release is mandated upon reaching a high probability of parole. See id.; see
also Carnes v. Engler, 76 F. App’x 79, 80 (6th Cir. 2003). In addition, the Sixth Circuit has rejected
the argument that the Due Process Clause is implicated when changes to parole procedures and
practices have resulted in incarcerations that exceed the subjective expectation of the sentencing
judge. See Foster v. Booker, 595 F.3d 353, 369 (6th Cir. 2010). Finally, the Michigan Supreme
Court has recognized that there exists no liberty interest in parole under the Michigan system.
Glover v. Mich. Parole Bd., 596 N.W.2d 598, 603-04 (Mich. 1999).
Until Plaintiff has served his maximum sentence, he has no reasonable expectation
of liberty. The discretionary parole system in Michigan holds out “no more than a mere hope that
the benefit will be obtained.” Greenholtz, 442 U.S. at 11. The Michigan Parole Board’s failure or
refusal to grant parole, therefore, implicates no federal right. In the absence of a liberty interest,
Plaintiff fails to state a claim for a violation of his procedural due process rights.
Plaintiff next alleges that Defendants are denying him parole and relying on false
information because they are biased against him. Arguably, Plaintiff intends to allege a violation
of the Equal Protection Clause.
The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment provides that a state may
not “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” which is essentially
a direction that all persons similarly situated should be treated alike. U.S. CONST ., amend. XIV; City
of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr., 473 U.S. 432, 439 (1985). Plaintiff’s allegations on this point
are wholly conclusory. He merely alleges that Defendants are biased. Plaintiff provides no specific
factual allegations to support his contention. Conclusory allegations of unconstitutional conduct
without specific factual allegations fail to state a claim under § 1983. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678;
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.1
Having conducted the review required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the Court
determines that Plaintiff’s action will be dismissed for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b), and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c).
The Court must next decide whether an appeal of this action would be in good faith
within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3). See McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 611
(6th Cir. 1997). For the same reasons that the Court dismisses the action, the Court discerns no
good-faith basis for an appeal. Should Plaintiff appeal this decision, the Court will assess the
$505.00 appellate filing fee pursuant to § 1915(b)(1), see McGore, 114 F.3d at 610-11, unless
Plaintiff is barred from proceeding in forma pauperis, e.g., by the “three-strikes” rule of § 1915(g).
If he is barred, he will be required to pay the $505.00 appellate filing fee in one lump sum.
This is a dismissal as described by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
A Judgment consistent with this Opinion will be entered.
Dated: April 2, 2015
/s/ Gordon J. Quist
GORDON J. QUIST
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
To the extent that Plaintiff alleges that other unknown MDOC officials are discriminating against him by
providing false information to the MPB, Plaintiff cannot state a claim against Defendants for an additional reason.
Government officials may not be held liable for the unconstitutional conduct of their subordinates under a theory of
respondeat superior or vicarious liability. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676. “[A] plaintiff must plead that each Governmentofficial defendant, through the official’s own individual actions, has violated the Constitution.” Id. False statements
made by others cannot subject these Defendants to liability.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?